Radiology: Only 4 Functional Intervention Centers in Nigeria Says President of ARIN – Prof. Ahmed Saidu

Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 2021 International Day of Radiology, IDoR

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 2021 International Day of Radiology, IDoR, the President of the Association of Radiologists in Nigeria, ARIN, Prof. Ahmed Saidu has described as abysmally poor, the availability of only four functional Intervention Centres in Nigeria.

Prof. Saidu who is also the Provost of the College of Health Sciences at the Uthman Danfodio University Sokoto, while speaking at the IDoR commemoration in Abuja, noted that the absence of sufficient number of Intervention Centres is responsible of the huge financial losses to foreign countries through medical tourism.

He explained that the trend can only be reversed through conscious efforts by government to allocate sufficient finances to the health sector and implementing such allocations for proper equipment of the sector and building the required human capital.

Prof. Saidu spoke on need for the establishment and activation of radiotherapy centres for the treatment of cancers being that radiology is also related to the use of ionization radiations.

“Yes intervention radiology, intervention cardiology amongst others but most importantly intervention centres only four are available in the country and not all of them are functioning maximally or optimally. That means that a lot of Nigerians who will need those services will have to travel outside Nigeria and of course, that will also imply that our health facilities in Nigeria are not optimal especially by way of diagnostics and treatment not necessarily primary health care.

“If health translates to wealth and we think that by the fact that we do not have enough of such facilities health care is not optimal, then the country needs to do a lot more by way of budgeting, appropriating and disbursement of funds for health care.

“At least I think that the country if not for the security challenges that we currently have we should be able to by the requirement of World Health Organisation and of course Africa Union and I think that declaration was made in Abuja – that at least 15% of the national budget should be dedicated to the health sector – and as we do that I want believe that we would have started.

“Most importantly also, Radiology and laboratory facilities decide the status of secondary, tertiary and sometimes primary facilities and if we ensure that these facilities are made available then we would have upped our game in the provision of quality health services to Nigerians.”

Also speaking the Federal Capital Territory – FCT- Chapter of ARIN, and national second vice president of ARIN, Dr. Wellington Ohikhokhai expressed regrets that after several years the practice of radiology in Nigeria, not a single radiology equipment manufacturing or building plant has been built in Nigeria.

Dr. Ohikhokhai emphasized that this has caused Nigeria huge foreign exchange as well job creation opportunities, and increased access to radiological diagnostic services, hence his call Government and key sector players to create the enabling environment for investors in the sector to come in.

“We are a country of about two hundred million people and you know how it is with our currency and exchange rate and the machines are very expensive. So, bringing them from outside is not very easy and moving them across customs is also not very easy. So is it impossible therefore for us to have an assembly plant where they can be assembled here even if they can’t be manufactured.

“We believe that that will bring the cost down and if we do this, man power will increase, people will be trained and know how to work on the machines. Right now you want to buy, you import; you want to repair, you import the people who are going to repair it you import them from various countries. You know what that means to the cost of these procedures to the patient.

“We believe that if we provide the enabling environment, it is very possible to drive down the cost and making these services more accessible to the people. On several occasions people are asked to do tests but they don’t do it because of the cost but if cost is lower than what it is right now we think they will be more encouraged to seek help with those machines.

“Providing an enabling environment requires first that they has to be good roads fixing the very poor state of the roads; second, the machines work with electricity and so there has to very very stable power supply because personal provision of electricity will be very expensive, government has to provide stable electricity; taxes and tariffs on products and companies or establishments have to be looked into to encourage the people to come on ground.”

The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Interventional Radiology: Active Care for the Patient”.

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